Posts by Alma Training

Delivering Adobe InDesign training by Adobe Certified Instructors

Work experience versus academia

I’ve recently had the opportunity to return to full-time study. It’s been such a rewarding experience. Don’t get me wrong, choosing to return to education as a ‘mature student’ wasn’t an easy decision. Weeks before the semester started I was having sleepless nights as well as all kinds of self-doubts. In fact walking through the college doors has been one of the bravest things I have done for quite a long time.

So qualification received, what have I achieved?

I recently received my results in the post and was very proud to see in, black and white, that I’d successfully completed my HND and achieved an A in my Graded unit. No easy task. But what have I really learned and what added value is there to gaining a new qualification?

My academic year was choca-block with assignments, assessments, online exams and reports to hand in. So I learned how to organise my time better. Work continued as did all the other commitments I already had so out of class time involved late nights, lost weekends and snatched lunch-breaks. It would all be worth it, I knew I’d ‘get there’ but where is ‘there’?

On completion of the course I have secured a place at uni and I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey of self-development. But what can I do with what I have already learned? Honestly? . . . not a lot! I feel the time at college gave me snapshots of areas I might like to work in but I am no where even near the finished article. With this in mind, and my place at uni looming I decided to do what I did when I was 17 and look for some work experience. Since volunteering my time at one of the UK’s top web development companies I have learned so much more about what is actually involved in this industry I’m hoping to spend the next chapter of my life working in. The skills I started to develop at college have given me a knowledge and understanding of the digital world but in a short time working within a productive environment I have really had my eyes opened. I have gained an invaluable insight into how it is in the real world. The technology, the software, the workflows the trends all of which I never got to learn about in college. So, work experience versus academia discuss! Both have been a great experience and I definitely couldn’t have had work experience without the college experience, but I feel that modifying the college course to involve students in a real world environment should be a priority. Ease up on the reports and continuous documentation. Expose them to something more exciting outside of the class room and direct them to where their ‘there’ can be.

Going the extra mile


Who doesn’t like to be told they’re appreciated or have done a good job! Compliments make a difference to how you feel about the performance you’ve delivered or the job you’ve just completed.

Each time I deliver a training course, I request my delegates to complete a feedback sheet. This is to gauge how the training has gone and if their objectives have been met. It’s a request, not a mandatory requirement so I’m always glad when I’ve received notification that they have been submitted.

The form is mainly a box ticking exercise, a standard feedback form. At the end of each form there is the option to leave feedback and comments. This is the destination I quickly scroll to. In this box I get the true measure of what the experience has been for the individual and it’s these comments that I take onboard the most. Sometimes the box has been left blank, often there will be a generic comment albeit complimentary, but occasionally there will a comment that makes my heart smile. I got one such comment today and it’s truly made my day.

” . . . she went the extra mile”. Truth be told I go the extra mile every time I deliver training, but seeing it written down and knowing someone noticed makes it all the better.

Alma Strutt


Give them more than just a “PDF for the Website”

So the job has gone to print and the client is happy with the terrific layout and design you have produced for their latest brochure, annual report, leaflet, whatever it might be. The next request is “Can I have a pdf for the website please?” and you are happy to oblige by supplying a lo-res pdf suitable to view on screen or print out from their website. Everyone happy! But what if, without a lot of work or effort, you could give them more? Something very exciting that allows their job not just to be downloaded to view but to publish it and make it available to view on a tablet or smartphone? Welcome to InDesign CC 2015‘s feature – Publish Online

This amazing feature allows the HTML version of your document to be viewed on all modern desktop, tablet, and mobile browsers. It automatically adds on features like zooming, navigating from page to page and viewing thumbnails of your document. Once you’re happy with the published document, share the URL with anyone using a hyperlink in email, or post it to Facebook and Twitter; or embed it in a website.

But here’s where it can get really powerful. You can spend some time adding interactivity to your document, ensuring a truly engaging experience. Animation, video, audio, slideshows, hyperlinks are all supported features. No coding required just a knowledge of InDesign‘s many interactive features.

You can view, manage and delete your published documents in the Web Dashboard within InDesign. The Web Dashboard is where you go to track views, unique visitors, and average time spent by visitors. Over 1000 publications can be uploaded and existing documents can be updated and re published.

So surprise your clients with a new service and publish InDesign documents online!

Publish Online is a Technology Preview.

Not to be confused with “betas” (features or new products that are complete but not fully tested), Technology Previews are intentionally “unfinished.” In other words, the features are fully tested and supported, but we’re still perfecting their capabilities; “previewing” the technology gives Creative Cloud members the opportunity to trial the functionality and give feedback to the product teams—who use the information to further shape the development of the features.

New Year, New Budget – Invest in some training

I’m happy to say that March has always proven to be a busy period for me. With the end of the financial tax year companies seem keen to spend some of what’s left of their budget on providing training to their staff. It’s great to see a company investing in their employees and ensuring their skills stay up-to-date, but it’s also very telling. This busy end of year implies some companies wait to see what money is ‘left over’ before organising training rather than making training a priority.

Every time I deliver a training session the general feedback from the learner is one of enthusiasm. Having gained new skills, delegates are keen to get started utilising this new knowledge and approach their next project in a way that will streamline their workflow and get the job done more efficiently. Using best practices they are confident they will be delivering a more accurate piece of work and within a quicker than before timeframe. So with that said, why would you wait until next year before reaping the benefits of getting your employees trained properly? Rather than seeing if you can afford to spend money on training, decide this year to invest in training.

Is Fixed Layout EPUBS a replacement for DPS?

Adobe InDesign training delivered by Adobe Certified Instructors

Adobe InDesign training delivered by Adobe Certified Instructors

I was among the many many people who were disappointed when Adobe decided Single Edition DPS subscriptions were to be a thing of the past. All those apps I’d intended to make were never going to see the light of day. My vegetarian cookbook where every recipe only needs 4 ingredients, dedicated to everyone who asks “What do you eat?” on hearing you’re vegetarian.

So is this the end of interactive publications for the small time self publisher?

I’ve just completed a lengthy InDesign document using many interactive features, animation, hyperlinks, buttons, slide-shows, video to name a few.
I am excited that this document can now be exported as a Fixed Layout EPUB with all these features supported. It can be viewable on and iPad as well as android devices. It can also be viewed on a computer using Adobe Digital Editions.
Navigational table of contents can be included or generated automatically.
Thumbnails allow the reader to swipe through the publication, there is a search feature built in which can detect specific words, you can bookmark your page in the publication. These are standard features if you’re used to reading books on an eReader. But here’s the difference. With a Fixed Layout EPUB it looks like a book, or a magazine. Design, layout and typography are not compromised.

So is this the way forward? I’m hoping it is. When Digital Publishing Suite first hit our computers, it’s interactive features were limited. Many of them could be described cumbersome workarounds. As it developed, things became easier and exciting features were being added within a short space of time. I’m hoping this will be the case for Fixed Layout EPUBs. Watch this interactive space!

Alma Training offers 1 day training courses on Fixed Layout EPUBS as well as all many other InDesign courses. All courses can be delivered on-site at your workplace. All courses can be tailored to the learners specific requirements. Contact us today to arrange your next InDesign course.

Is There Always Time for Best Practices?

As a trainer, sometimes the content of the training course is dictated by the learner or the learners boss. Understandably companies may try to get as much covered within the training timeframe believing they are getting more for their money. This used to leave me in a bit of a dilemma. Do I teach best practices?

If the learner only wants to be able to edit an existing document, then why confuse them by insisting they always approach a new project in the correct manner? As a trainer, teaching someone who has never used or seen InDesign before is a responsibility. Explaining to them the value of learning the software in the proper way should be a fundamental part of any training course.

If a learner can see the benefits of best practices they are more likely to ensure they don’t take ‘short cuts’ once the training is over.

Showing examples of how a little bit of discipline at the early stages can save so much time is always helpful. Highlighting how best practices will create a more efficient workflow as well as improve accuracy and consistency throughout their project will encourage them to stick with it.

When teaching Adobe InDesign advanced courses, ensuring learners have an understanding of best practices means they quickly get up and running with InDesign’s more automated features.

As with any new knowledge, if you don’t use it you lose it. I always leave the learner with a simple lesson which allows them to consolidate their new knowledge and allowing best practises to become automatic in a very short time.

Visit Alma Training to organise your next InDesign training session

Investing in training – does it cost or does it pay?

In recent times there seems to be less training being offered. When companies are streamlining their outgoings, training budgets are often the first thing to go. I wonder if this is all together wise. I recently delivered an Adobe InDesign training session. One delegate asked me if I could demonstrate how to achieve a feathered edge on an image. I showed him the process which took no more than a few seconds. His reply, “I spent over 3 hours the other day trying to do that, then gave up”. Who can afford to have any staff member trying something without success for a prolonged amount of time? Apart from the frustration of the user, this waste of time will no doubt impact on the day’s overall production.

Ensuring users streamline their workflow and work efficiently will also show an increase in productivity. Many of us are guilty of diving into a piece of software and muddling our way around it, then blaming the software when things don’t go as we’d expected. For example, has anyone actually ever done a Microsoft Word training course? Yet we all use it and get frustrated when ‘it’ deletes or moves things we didn’t want moved. Investing the time into getting to know the software, customising it to how you want to work and always using best practices will only improve your efficiency, accuracy and productivity. Time and money well spent I believe.

Finally, spare a thought for the ‘InDesign User’ who originally was the Communications Officer, Marketing Manager or Administrator who had a ‘flair’ and as a result has been mapped into the Graphic Designers role. These situations are on the rise as companies opted to outsource design and now see this as an expensive decision. Ensuring these people get the appropriate training will increase their confidence and show they are valued staff members worth the investment to help them master this software.

Discuss your Adobe InDesign Training needs